2020 and beyond: What’s next for mobile advertising?

It’s been a big year for mobile. In April, IAB UK and PwC’s full year Adspend report showed that advertisers’ mobile spend surpassed desktop for the first time – giving a new weight to the term ‘mobile first’. A few months later, 5G touched down on our shores, promising to revolutionise digital experiences and storytelling possibilities via superfast connectivity.

So, with the end of 2019 fast approaching – and with it the dawn of a new decade –members of IAB UK’s Mobile Steering Group reflect on the biggest challenges of the past year and what trends we can expect to see in 2020 and beyond.

What have been the biggest challenges facing the mobile market this year?

Raphael Rodier, chief revenue officer international at Ogury
Balancing the need for collecting data and giving consumers control over their digital marketing experiences has been a big challenge this year.

We live in a trusted digital economy, where consumers are empowered by the abundant choices and control that they have on mobile. But in the wake of this new age of consent, digital marketing has encountered challenges; high-profile data scandals have eroded user confidence, and legally enforced privacy regulations have evolved.

Moving forward, it’s time for an industry-wide shift from ‘data-driven’ to ‘choice-first’.

Andy Chandler, general manager UK & Ireland at Adjust 
In-app bot attacks have become a growing issue throughout 2019. Bots are automated software agents capable of interacting with content, advertising and offers in a human-like way. For a brand, bots can cost them one of their most important values: their reputation.

Bots are big business, too: Google the words “bots for concert tickets” and you receive around 6m results. It’s hard, but not impossible, to distinguish between bots and humans. The clue lies in learning an app’s natural user flow and looking at human-only activity like device movement, touch events or light sensors on the screen. From there, brands can go on to discern the patterns in behaviour that distinguish a real user from a fake one. 

Another challenge I often hear from brands is that they almost have too much data and aren’t sure how best to use it. Reconciling data from so many channels – and working out how it all plugs together – can be intimidating at best, a logistical nightmare at worst.  

What mobile developments are you most excited for in 2020?

Andy Chandler, general manager UK & Ireland at Adjust 
In the next year, I think we’ll see a big shift in how brands use app data to inform their entire business strategy. In many companies, app data has always been pretty siloed but there’s a realisation now that mobile is often a business’ closest touchpoint with their customers. Around the world, time spent in-app grew by 50 per cent from 2016 to 2018 – and this figure is only expected to rise over the coming years. As the most personal and omnipresent channel, apps give brands the easiest way to reach and understand customers. 

Especially in light of web-based data issues, mobile can offer invaluable CRM data. Looking beyond simple app install campaigns, brands can use insights around a user’s journey in-app to understand pain points and the wider customer journey. This can go onto influence every aspect of the business, from product to advertising.

Raphael Rodier, chief revenue officer international at Ogury
Digital marketing is undergoing an imperative transformation, one where users must now have choice and control over their data. And the only way to restore consumer trust is to act with transparency over when and how data is collected and used.

This all starts with consent notices and I’m confident that consent management will become an integral part of marketing in 2020.

That means standardised adoption of Consent Management Platform (CMP) tools, built to industry best practices. This will encourage advertisers to avoid activating data with fragmented or untraceable consent, to honour their consumer relationships and avoid reputational and financial risk.

What one trend do you think will disrupt the mobile market the most over the next few years?

Andy Chandler, general manager UK & Ireland at Adjust 
At Adjust, we’re all really excited for the potential marketing automation has to change how the industry works as a whole. It’ll be a big change that won’t happen overnight, but will drastically cut the time and effort marketers currently put into very menial (and boring) tasks like creative management or campaign optimisation. 

By significantly reducing repetitive workflows, marketing automation will enable marketers to focus on what really matters to them – driving ROI through creative and strategic approaches. Brands may have more data than ever, but marketing automation will allow them to be smarter and faster about how they process it. 

Automation will also dramatically increase marketing teams’ output, and success will depend on being smarter, rather than manpower. We’ll see the playing field between companies start to level out, and with the right tools and mindset, smaller and mid-size brands will be able to compete with the biggest players in their industries. 

We’re currently focusing on building the tech to support this for our clients. Last year, as a first step, we acquired data aggregation platform Acquired.io, which simplifies the process of multi-channel campaign management. More developments are coming in 2020, so watch this space.

Raphael Rodier, chief revenue officer international at Ogury
All the AI and targeting advances in the world cannot help consumers understand and trust the value-exchange that comes from digital marketing. That will require something decidedly more human; to stop treating consumers as mere sources of data and instead respect their data choices as individuals.

Unless consumers are given an explicit choice whether or not to share their data, they will always carry an underlying resentment to the ads they are shown. Over the next few years, mobile marketing must shift from a data-driven to a choice-first approach.